Cell phones in class: A responsible story

This is a true classroom experience that happened to a friend of mine the other day.  I am leaving out all names of people and schools, because the incident that occurred is against school policy.  All comments in quotes are just paraphrases of the conversations, since I was not there to witness the incident.  A friend of mine teaches in a high school and had the class working in a computer lab for a project.  There were not enough computers for all of the students to research what they were working on, so the students were sharing computers.

My friend noticed a student facing away from the group and acting a bit “odd.”  My friend walked over and the student had a cell phone out zipping around on the touch screen.  As my friend was about to say something to the student, the student turned around and said preemptively, “I am not texting, I was looking up my topic.  I do not have a computer and it is too nice to have to wait and work from home.”  The student then held up the cell phone for my friend to see the screen.  My friend asked about phone fees, to which the student replied, “It is free, I am not stupid.”

Lo and behold, the student had Googled the topic and was reviewing sites to start gathering information.  My friend looked at the student, told the student, “Okay, keep working, but be careful, we could both get in trouble if you get caught.”  The student continued working, and eventually found a site with information and began taking notes.  Learning was occurring in a positive way, class went on as planned, the Earth did not stop rotating, other students did not pull out their phones and begin the wholesale acts of texting, sexting, and calling each other to the point of using up all of their minutes.  It was what should be considered a non-issue, but I am writing about it because kids are not allowed to use this type of technology in class, because some believe that cell phone use is a gateway act to anarchy in schools.  It isn’t, IF YOU TEACH STUDENTS HOW TO USE THESE TOOLS RESPONSIBLY!

Now, according to my friend’s school district’s policy, the phone should have been confiscated from the student, the student should have received some sort of detention, either after-school or Saturday morning.  The phone could have been liberated but only to parents/guardians at a time a few days later in the week.  If the student would have refused to give up the phone, the student could have been suspended from school, which also meant there would have been a large disruption to most of the students in class.

I know that my friend has told students in the past how to use technology for learning purposes.  My friend is well ahead of the curve, we often discuss the projects we have are having students create and share resources with each other.  After all that is what a PLN is supposed to do, and mine is super-fantastic, but I digress.  When asked if my friend had modeled cell phone use in class, the reply was, “Not to that extent, I do not have Internet on my phone.”

The student had actually listened to past conversations with my friend and explored learning on their own.  A marvelous concept…taking initiative and using tools that they already know well to complete work appropriately.  My friend’s next goal will be to show the student some free note-taking apps for the student’s phone.  We do not know if Evernote or Documents 2 will work on that type of phone, it was not a Blackberry or iPhone, just a basic touchscreen version with Internet capabilities. There is some research for us to do so we can help this student prep for college in a couple of years.

Hopefully some day soon this can be a common occurrence and not a topic to write about…

iPods in Class

The use of the iPods in class is one way that I definitely can keep up with the class and all of the information that is needed to know. I was actually not too excited about using iPods in class but now, it’s one thing that I look forward to.
The iPods are so easy to use. Since we are living by the technology of our time, electronics like these are extremely simple to use. I can honestly say that I have never once even held an iPod Touch in my life, nor have I ever owned an iPod, until I took Mr. Sal’s POD class. Once I started using the electronic device that was completely new to me, I figured it out rather quickly. Just figuring out what all the buttons did, adjusting volume, the use of all the apps, turning the iPod to make the screen change, etc…
One thing that I like about the iPod Touch is that the buttons are heat sensitive, not pressure sensitive. I have a pressure sensitive phone and every time I put it in my purse or in my pocket, I’m calling someone or typing crazy text messages. I also really like that the iPod has a lock feature. The lock feature can prevent all those half hour calls to some random person that you didn’t mean to call and all those absurd texts.
Also another thing that I liked about using the iPods in class is that everything is so accessible to you. Everything is so quick. Unlike a regular computer, the iPod Touch is basically a “I want this done now and wow, now it’s done!” device. Computers take foreeeever to load. For instance, when I turned my computer on to write this blog, 10 minutes; 10 minutes for my so-called “fast” computer to turn on, and not to mention, for it to load completely, so that I can use it. Sure, they come out with new looking computers that are supposed to be faster but ‘I’m not talking fashion, so much as function.’
Another thing I like about the iPod is that typing is so simple. The buttons are so clear to read and I like that it’s basically a keyboard so most people already know where all the buttons are. I use the Notepad app to store all of my notes for class. Using this quick and easy app helps me to not fall behind with notes. If I had to write down all the information on paper, I would still be in the 3rd nine weeks of the school year. I’m usually not a good note-keeper, but using the iPod Touch, I’d have to say that I am now quite organized in my POD class.
The only problem that I am having with using the iPod touch is that the screen is, to me, small. But I mean, you can make whatever you’re looking at on the screen bigger, so I guess I don’t really have any complaints or anything that I would change.
Overall, I believe that the iPod is a revolution. It’s easy to use, accessible, and who doesn’t have fun using an electronic device that is personalized and you can do pretty much whatever you want on it? You can’t tell me that you don’t even like the sound of an electronic device, that can fit in your pocket, that can do almost everything that a computer does. I really enjoy using the iPods in class and I think that Mr. Sal should, for the future classes, keep using them.

Ipod touches in class

Using technology in today’s society is very common. Therefore when young kids are in school, they should be allowed to use different types of technology to enhance their learning skills. In an economics class at my high school, we used iPod touches during our class. There were many positive and a few negatives to this type of technology use during school.

The iPods helped the class become more interactive. We were able to search for information with the teacher by using the Internet on our iPod. This was a creative way our teacher was able to keep our class focused. Another positive is the easy access to the Internet for projects. The iPod was like having a compact computer at your hands. I like how we were able to write papers and research at ease, and we did not have wait for a day when a computer lab was available. Also, I believe signing out the iPods at the beginning of class was a lot quicker than I expected it to be. I was impressed about how lining up was becoming a ritual everyday. This was a very different experience from my other classes in the past.

The few negatives during my economics class were not huge problems, but they still occurred. During class people could easily lose focus on the topic we were trying to discuss by surfing the web.  Also because of the easy access of the Internet, it was very easy for people to cheat on quizzes. I know a few people would take the quiz, but while taking it, be searching for the answers on a site like Wikipedia.  These problems only occurred because of the people who took advantage of having the iPods, but because of them others would suffer. While some people actually studied for a quiz and obtained a good grade, others slacked off and still were able to achieve the same grade.

I believe that these problems could be fixed. If we were able to take quizzes on paper instead of on the iPod, everyone would be at a fair advantage.  You will always have people who try to cheat, but taking the quiz on paper will make it harder for them to succeed at it.  Also to keep students more focused, I would have a set plan. They would have to go to a certain website during class. Then after looking over the cite give an outline of what is important on that cite. I believe students would remember the information better by writing down the information and also stay on task. In my class we did not have to look up the information asked, and only a few students would do it anyway.  Therefore having an outline or giving points to people during a lecture would help students focus on the material being learned. Although some students will not care either way, I think that more students will prosper.

All together, this was a good experience. Personally, I like writing my notes on paper better than on the iPods because writing information down helps me remember it.  Today we are seeing technology enter the classroom more rapidly, and fixing the problems of having it will be the next steps schools will have to take. Technology does allow students to prosper, but it also allows them to become inattentive.

iPods In Class

Having iPods available for every student in a classroom is very beneficial for many reasons.  Not only does it give students the opportunity to search the World Wide Web for information as it is being taught in class, but it also allows the students to interact and participate more since they have access to so much information.  Overall, having these iPods in the classroom really broadens a child’s education.

As a teacher is teaching in class, what better way for the students to understand the lesson than to have them look up the definitions themselves in a quick and efficient way?  Using the iPods does just that.  They give students the ability to really gain a lot more knowledge than just having a textbook in front of them.

Along with being quick and efficient, teachers are always looking for children to participate in class and the iPods are a great way to get students to interact with the teacher and also other students.  From the iPods alone, students that are usually very quiet and do not talk off task, they are speaking up more and more to explain any information they found.

IPods are really a great thing to have in the classroom but there are some thing’s I feel that are better to be done on paper than the iPod itself.  Taking test and also taking notes are more beneficial to do on paper.  Tests are hard as it is, so taking them on little computer screens is very hard and adds more stress to students than they need.  Also, taking notes on iPods are not a good idea because when a student writes something on paper it is easier to remember.  But besides these two little issues, like I stated before, there are so many great aspects to having iPods in the classroom.

Social Networking Pilots

I am piloting two sites for our district that deal with social networking.  One we are trying our is called MyVRSpot, it is a fee service from the people that bring us Gaggle email.  The other is the Keystone Commons, which is brought to us by the PAIUnet, it is a free site if you are a PAIU district.

I set my Tenth Graders up with both accounts and turned them loose, I figured that since they may be using the sites in classes, let them decide which they prefer and why.  They can run through the secure sites and do more with them than I can. I want to get their opinions on the sites, I already have an idea as to my opinion, but want to compare views.

As I was rolling out the directions last week, a student raised his hand and asked what I thought was a very good question. He asked, “Why are we doing this?”  I asked for clarification, and he rephrased, “What is the purpose of doing all this?” Which, to me, showed he was not trying to be troublesome, he truly was curious.

I followed up with the question, “How many of you have Facebook accounts?” to which almost all students raised their hands.  When asked about Twitter, most had heard about it, but only a handful responded that they had accounts.  All know YouTube, and once again, only a small number said they posted there.  I then asked them to think about the next question, but do not respond openly, “How many of you would be embarrassed by what you or a friend has posted about you on one of these sites?”  Students looked about quizzically, and I continued with the comment that most students have these accounts, but do not know exactly what they are doing.  We want to show them how to use the sites appropriately and safely so they do not get into trouble later in life.

We discussed briefly a few stories of people, the focus was on adults, getting in trouble because of their public postings on these sites.  They seemed to “get it” and were willing to work with the sites.  I am giving them points for their effort, in exchange I am hoping they run with the sites and provide some good feedback as to strengths and weaknesses of each.

The students seemed interested in the pilot project, regardless of the points.  They asked questions and once in the sites started checking out what they could do.  Many already use these tools, now they can see how to use them appropriately.  For the students who have not tried blogging or micro-blogging, now is there opportunity to gain experience in a safe setting.  Hopefully, the experience will transfer out into the real-world and continue long after they are out of High School.